- How Does Age Affects Fertility?
- Is it Safe to Get Pregnant When You Are Over 35?
- Does the Pregnancy After 35 Increase the Risks of Congenital Defects?
- Pregnancy After 35: Does the Risk of Miscarriage Increase?
- Other Possible Risks of Pregnancy After 35
- Pregnancy After 35: How to Give Birth to a Healthy Baby?
- Recommended Prenatal Tests
How Does Age Affects Fertility?
Female fertility declines after 30 years old, the expectant mothers at this age group are more likely to develop complications.
The decline in fertility may depend on the following factors:
- reduction of the healthy eggs number;
- change in the hormonal balance that leads to changes in ovulation;
- general decrease in the number of eggs;
- reduced sperm count;
- reduced frequency of sexual intercourse;
- other diseases such as endometriosis that can impact the fertilization.
Is it Safe to Get Pregnant When You Are Over 35?
Advances in modern medicine help women over 35 to get pregnant. However, women over 35 yo are more likely to suffer from infertility or develop complications during pregnancy than women under 35. Therefore, if a woman takes decision to postpone her pregnancy, she should be aware of the risk she is running, in order to minimize it and give birth to a healthy child.
Does the Pregnancy After 35 Increase the Risks of Congenital Defects?
The risk of having a baby with birth defects increases with the age of a woman. This is most likely to be caused by abnormalities in the process of the egg’s division (nondisjunction). This phenomenon – nondisjunction of the chromosomes during mitosis leads to an unequal number of chromosomes at the end of the division. As a rule, the risk of similar events occurrence increases in women over 35. One woman out of 1400 at the age of 20-30 years will give birth to a child with Down syndrome; among women in their 40s this rate increases from 1 to 100.
Pregnancy After 35: Does the Risk of Miscarriage Increase?
According to the studies, the risk of miscarriage (the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks) among women aged 20-30 years is 12-15%, while the percentage increases to 25% in women over 40. This rate is affected by chromosomal abnormalities.
Other Possible Risks of Pregnancy After 35
- Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension are more common for women aged 30-40 years. Before fertilization, you should make sure that the disease is controlled, as it may pose a threat to both the child and the mother. In this case, you will need medical supervision both before and during pregnancy.
- High blood pressure and diabetes can develop during pregnancy. It often happens among women aged 30 years. Medical care during pregnancy is of particular significance for pregnant women aged 35, since it allows to establish a proper diagnosis and administer treatment in case of an illness.
- Stillbirth, as well as the birth of a child with low birth weight (less than 2 kg) are also more common among women aged 35 years.
- Pregnant women aged 35 yo also become more often subjects to C-section.
Pregnancy After 35: How to Give Birth to a Healthy Baby?
The baby’s health depends on the health of his mother before and during pregnancy:
- The diet of a pregnant woman should include enough folic acid. Experts recommend a daily dose of 0.4 mg for women of childbearing age in addition to consuming foods rich in this element, including green leafy vegetables, dried beans, liver and some citrus.
- Caffeine should be limited to 300 mg daily. Caffeine content in different beverages depends on coffee beans and leaves used to make coffee, as well as on the cooking method. One cup of coffee (250 ml) contains about 150 mg of caffeine, a cup of black tea contains about 80 mg of caffeine. 350-ml glass of sweet water contains approximately 3060 mg of caffeine. Don't forget about chocolate, which also contains caffeine – a chocolate bar contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
- Stick to a healthy and balanced diet containing all the necessary microelements and nutrients. Choose foods with high contents of starch and fiber; don't forget about vitamins and minerals. Every day eat dairy products enriched with calcium at least 4 times a day and take vitamin С, А and folic acid.
- Exercise regularly. Make a program of exercise with your obstetrician-gynecologist. You can stick to a program you are used to, if the doctor doesn’t advise you to reduce the load.
- During pregnancy avoid alcohol and don’t take other medications except for those prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not smoke during pregnancy.
Regularly attend medical check-ups, especially at the early stages of pregnancy. The first eight weeks of pregnancy are crucial for the baby’s development. Medical supervision in the early stages of pregnancy, as well as at all other stages, greatly increases the chances to give birth to a healthy baby.
It is important to attend your doctor regularly in order to prevent any complications. Courses for expectant parents are an important element of prenatal consultations.
Recommended Prenatal Tests
Women over 35 yo are recommended to undergo certain tests because of the increased risk of pregnancy complications. Such tests allow detecting diseases before, during and after pregnancy. Some of them require consultation with specialists on their advantages and disadvantages. Consult an expert before making a decision about a test, but remember that it’s entirely up to you to make the final decision.
Ultrasound is performed using high-frequency sound waves that allow getting a picture of the child. In the early stages of pregnancy ultrasound allows to check the viability of the fetus (whether it is located in the uterus and his heart beats), multiple pregnancy, an approximate date of the birth and the gestational age of the fetus. At advanced stages of pregnancy ultrasound checks the baby’s health, placenta location, amount of amniotic fluid.
A quad marker screening: blood test that allows to find out brain and spinal cord abnormalities in developments as well as those of other tissues of CNS (neural tube), for example cleft spine or anencephaly. Neural tube defects develop in one or two fetuses out of 1000. This test detects 75-80% of cases of neural tube defects. Screening on markers of pathologies will help to detect such conditions as Down syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality in 75% of cases in women under 35 years and in 80% of cases in women over 35 yo. Screening for markers of pathologies is performed between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy.
Screening in the first trimester: a new test performed between 10-14 weeks of pregnancy in order to detect (along with ultrasound) the presence of two markers in the blood and measure the back of the fetal neck. Test is made to identify such diseases as Down syndrome in the fetus. This test’s results are as reliable as those of the quad screening, but it can be performed at an earlier stage of pregnancy.
Amniocentesis: test that examines a sample of amniotic fluid taken from the sac surrounding the fetus to identify birth defects. This test helps to identify sickle-cell disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Tay-Sachs disease and similar conditions, as well as the Down syndrome if the parents run such genetic risks. Amniocentesis detects neural tube defects (brain and spinal cord), for example, cleft sine and anencephaly. Ultrasound can identify other defects that amniocentesis can’t track, such as cleft lip, cleft palate, deformations of a foot, heart diseases. Unfortunately, there are birth defects impossible to detect using amniocentesis and ultrasound.
Chorionic villus sampling: sampling cells (chorionic villus) of the placenta taken at the point where the placenta is attached to the uterine wall. Chorionic villus are tiny pieces of placenta that are generated from a fertilized egg, thus they have the same genes as the fetus. If a woman is exposed to certain risk factors, doctors advise to conduct this test to determine the birth defects at an early stage of pregnancy. Before making a decision to undergo this test, consult a specialist that will tell you about its pros and cons.